• Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger

    Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger.

    Cucumber Salad With Smashed Garlic And Ginger.

    Yotam, meet Nancy. Nancy, this is Yotam. You are separated by thousands of miles, but we think you will get along just fine…we certainly hope so.

    One of the fun things about cooking and blogging is the volume of recipes we read and cook (we have a obsession thing with cookbooks). And sometimes when we are cooking one recipe, another recipe jumps into our heads as a potential compliment (then again, sometimes we have to look around for a while). In this case we adapted a recipe for Sashimi With Hot Rice and Broth from Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s book “Japanese Farm Food“, and this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” immediately came to mind as our salad. We hoped for a good fit.

    cukecuke1The fish was a simple, warm, umami-bomb of a dish (but oh so good). We wanted a salad that complimented the savory umami flavors but was also cool and crisp. Few things are as cool as a cucumber (ugh), so we pulled out this recipe that added a serious dose of ginger, onions and garlic to the cukes with a big splash of a rice wine vinegar and sesame oil-based dressing. A very good recipe and one that we would have just as likely seen in Singleton’s cookbook as Ottolenghi’s. Either way, they seemed like a natural match.

    cuke6cuke7cuke4And they were quite complimentary. The ginger, onion and garlic are marinated in the dressing for a bit, so you still get their flavor with the cukes, but the harder, hotter edges are taken away. Sesame seeds and cilantro add some depth (we think peanuts would also be good) so the first bite was as good as the last. And the final benefit was timing, this salad was easy to make and took about the same time to prepare as the sashimi in broth. An excellent salad and a good foil to any flavorful or savory main dish.

    cuke8cuke9cuke10The only downside of this salad is that, even if the rough edges are smoothed, you are still using crushed raw garlic. It sticks with you for a while. I went to a town council meeting later that night and bet that sitting next to me wasn’t a real treat (or was worse than normal). And when I spoke I could almost see the council member’s eyes water. I would like to think it was my moving oratory at work, but I suspect it was something else… ;-)

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  • Warm Mushroom And Arugula Salad

    Warm Mushroom and Arugula Salad.

    Warm Mushroom and Arugula Salad.

    We love to cook here at the farm (in case you couldn’t tell), but life still gets in the way sometimes. We have kids, jobs, community, family, the garden and just every day stuff that needs to get done (and baseball starts soon). And we are certainly not complaining (life is good), it just means we have less time than we would like to cook. That is why we make a point to always have (and look for) quick, easy one-plate dinners that use common ingredients. And this salad is one of those dishes. You can get the ingredients at almost any market, it takes maybe 20-30 minutes to make, it tastes great and sneaks in some veggies.

    shroom5shroom6And it shouldn’t be a surprise that this recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris” cookbook. Ina’s recipes tend to use common, fresh ingredients and subs simple preparations over complex technique. And while purists may howl at times (don’t purists howl about everything?), her recipes do work. And as an ex-caterer, Garten’s recipes tend to require less extra time and prep than most. With that in mind, if we want to adapt a basic dish, Garten’s recipes are often where we start. And with this dish of warm sautéed cremini mushrooms and dressing over a bed of arugula and prosciutto, garnished with parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley, we didn’t have to change all that much. The whole dish is one big “umami-bomb”, what’s not to like? (Unless you are a vegetarian, then just sub caramelized shallots or onion for the prosciutto).

    shroom7shroom8But we do make a few significant changes to the recipe that, we think, improve the dish. Firstly, Ina tells you not to wash the mushrooms, but brush them clean instead, so they don’t absorb water. While many “old-school” chefs will tell you to brush, many current food-science oriented cooks like Alton Bron and Harold McGee have run many experiments showing that you can, and should, wash mushrooms. They just don’t soak up that much water and what they soak up will cook out. Save yourself 20 minutes of mind-numbing, ineffective brushing and wash those mushrooms. Secondly, Ina has you cook the mushrooms for just a few minutes, but to really get the golden brown, meaty flavor and texture out of the mushrooms you need to sauté them longer, more like 10-15 minutes. Take your time with the mushrooms and you will be rewarded, besides you have the 20 extra minutes you saved by washing the mushrooms. ;-)

    shroom9shroom11As for assembling the dish, this is as easy as it gets. Rinse and dry some arugula (you could sub baby spinach), place it on the plates and drape over a few slices of prosciutto. Cut some slivers of parmesan cheese and dice a few tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes. Rinse and dry a few leaves of Italian parsley. Meanwhile, as you finish sautéing the mushrooms, add some sherry or cider vinegar to make a warm dressing. Taste the dressing and adjust vinegar and seasoning and then spoon the mushrooms and dressing over the greens. Garnish with the parm, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley. Season one last time, if you like, and serve. It really is that easy. And this dish really is that good.

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  • Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad With Hazelnuts and Pecorino

    romescoromesco14While we sometimes bitch and moan whine about winter vegetables this time of year, we do enjoy them quite a bit. It just takes a little more work to get the best out of them, and being as lazy as the next guy, we prefer more flavor and less work. In summer we put most fresh veggies on a plate with some olive oil and salt, or give them a quick sauté and voilà! Perfection (well, at least a good dish). In winter, we break out our thinking caps and some cookbooks and get to work. So when Carolyn brought home some purple broccoli and broccoflower (or romanesco, depending on appearance), we got off our butts motivated and made this salad. And it turned out well enough to make the blog, and become a regular dish here at the farm.

    romesco2romesco3This salad combines blanched cauliflower and broccoli with sharp pecorino cheese, crisp apples, hazelnuts and bacon (optional) with a classic vinaigrette. Our goal was to build a dish that covers multiple flavors and textures but still highlights the inherent sweetness and crunch of the vegetables. The broccoli and cauliflower still lead, but the cheese and bacon add salt and umami, the apples acidity and crunch and the hazelnuts add nutty and slightly bitter undertones. The vinaigrette brings it all together. It is a very pleasant bite and will even get kids to eat their broccoli (we tested it, it worked).

    romesco4romesco5And the cool thing about this salad is that you can interchange almost any variety of broccoli or cauliflower. So if you have purple broccoli, broccoflower, romanesco or orange cauliflower, they will all work. And if you just want either broccoli or cauliflower, that works too, but we do suggest a combination as they play well together. If you get lucky at the market you can make this salad with a full range of colors, it will be beautiful and a good dish for entertaining. And all you need to do is chop and boil water, so it is an easy dish.

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  • Simple Garden Recipes: Panzanella

    Panzanella.

    As we move into Indian Summer, we often find ourselves torn. We start to see sign of fall and are tempted by fall flavors, but in reality our garden is still brimming with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Happily there are plenty of good summer vegetable dishes to address this late-summer abundance. We already enjoy Caprese Salads and Gazpacho on regular basis. We make Ratatouille  (particularly to use up the eggplant). And whenever there is some country bread around we make Panzanella, a Florentine salad of bread, tomato, cucumbers, peppers, onions and a vinaigrette.

    Make some croutons.

    Mix a quick vinaigrette.

    Now, if you just said to yourself “isn’t that just gazpacho that hasn’t been pureed?” you would be pretty close. And this makes some sense, the Spanish and Italians share a Mediterranean climate and cultivate similar summer vegetables. Odds are, you will see some similar seasonal dishes from these countries / regions (keep going east and you get a Greek salad) . And as we continue to cook from our garden, we see this pattern all the time. We have no doubt many recipes exist because seasonal ingredients often compliment each other and generations of cooks refined what became classic recipes. But we also have few romantic illusions about seasonal cooking, dishes like Gazpacho and Panzanella exist because they are a good way to pawn off use up all of those tomatoes and cucumbers. And usually when you get your tomatoes and cukes, you get a lot of them. Oh, and might as well use-up that old bread as well…

    Chop tomatoes and peppers.

    Add some chopped cucumber.

    And it does help if the dish actually tastes good, and Panzanella is often a delicious dish. But like many “classic” dishes there are plenty of recipes, not always good, and some details that make the most of the ingredients. We use an adapted recipe from Ina Garten that keeps things simple but has a lot of summer flavor (and uses up our veggies). The key step in this recipe is making croutons with the bread, and not just soaking stale bread. The warm, crunchy and salty croutons mix perfectly with the veggies, herbs and vinaigrette. And if you can chop vegetables and make vinaigrette, making the rest of this recipe is as easy as it gets. And if you have other ingredients you want to add, feel free- purists may cringe, but there are all sorts of Panzanella recipes out there. Find one you like.

    Add some onion, basil and capers.

    Toss in the vinaigrette and add the croutons.

    As for the history of Panzanella, it’s been around in some form since the 16th century. Originally Panzanella combined bread, onions and vinegar. While this was probably “ok”, we think we can speak for most people and say adding tomatoes and peppers (and cukes) in the 19th and 20th centuries probably improved the dish. (Gazpacho has a similar history and improved with the addition of tomatoes, IMHO). As it often turns out, an abundance of tomatoes usually makes for better eating, particularly in summer. So if you can’t pickle one more cucumber of bottle one more jar of tomato sauce, take what you have left, grab some old bread, invite a few friends over and make Panzanella. Enjoy the bounty of summer while you can.

    Serve.

    Panzanella:

    (Adapted from Ina Garten)

    Ingredients:

    (Serves 8-12 as a salad)

    Salad:

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 6 cups country bread (1 small to medium loaf), cut into 1 inch cubes
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
    • 2 sweet red and/or yellow peppers seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
    • 1 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
    • 1/2 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
    • 3 tablespoons capers, drained

    Vinaigrette:

    • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
    • 1/2 cup good olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Assemble:

    1. To make the croutons, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add the bread and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until browned. About 10 minutes. Set aside when done.
    2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together in a small jar or bowl.
    3. Chop all of your vegetables add place into a large mixing or salad bowl. Add the basil and capers. Add the vinaigrette (don’t do it all at once, add half and see what you need to add) and toss thoroughly. Add the bread cubes and toss again. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately or let the flavors meld 15-30 minutes before service.
  • Simple Garden Recipes: Tomatoes And Green Beans

    Tomato “Steakhouse” Salad.

    Green Beans With Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes.

    This time of year, the garden mostly dictates what we cook. A welcome snap of heat brought us early tomatoes and green beans, now we need to use them. The tomatoes are easy; the green beans are a bit more of a challenge. Let’s start with the tomatoes.

    Our first tomatoes, the sweet 100s came in and are exactly as you expect, small and sweet. We also got our hands on some early heirlooms, big, sweet and juicy. For the larger tomatoes we usually make Caprese salads, just with an extra dash of balsamic and olive oil. But we also enjoy this “steak house” tomato salad. The recipe is a combination of the onion and tomato salad from the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse in New York and a recipe from Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles.

    It is a simple combination of ripe tomatoes (otherwise don’t bother), sweet onion, blue cheese and herb vinaigrette. But the flavors really do sing and are much richer than a Caprese salad. The sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes and onions match well with the rich, tangy blue cheese, while the herb vinaigrette adds tart and earthy flavors. And the mix of soft, crisp and creamy textures make for an excellent overall dish.

    Making the salad couldn’t be easier, but a few quick tips that will improve the overall dish. Simply slice the tomatoes and onions, but soak the onion slices in cold water for a few minutes before assembling the dish- they will be crisper and have less heat. Also slice the herbs and make the vinaigrette at the last-minute. The herbs will not discolor and the presentation will really pop. And this dish looks as good as it tastes.

    As for the green beans, they are more of a challenge. Their flavor is often very “green” and vegetal, and their texture can sometimes be leathery. The small, young beans are often the best, but our beans ripen unevenly and we tend to have a mix of large and small beans. Happily we found a basic technique and adapted a recipe that makes the most of the green beans and is very tasty. Our green beans with chorizo and cherry tomatoes are so good, even our kids eat them. We consider that to be a success.

    Separate small and large beans and cook different times.

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  • Simple Garden Recipes With Cherries And Berries

    Strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar.

    Baked goat cheese and lettuce salad with cherries.

    When eating seasonally, the garden often dictates our menu. Right now we have cherries, strawberries and lettuces in full swing, and while we will preserve some of the fruit, we try to eat it at its peak. We also try not to do much with the main ingredient, if we grew lettuces or berries, that what we want to enjoy. So with that in mind, here are the first of a series of quick, simple recipes that highlight fresh produce straight from the garden or farmers market. This is also what we tend to have for lunch these days.

    Our first recipe is a simple combination of strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar. That’s all. You just clean the strawberries and put out some sour cream and light brown sugar. Just dip the strawberry in a bit of sour cream and then the brown sugar. The flavor is sweet, sour and tangy- with just a touch of molasses from the brown sugar. Instant dessert. And pretty, too.

    Simple, but very tasty.

    It is worth noting that this is our second crop of strawberries this season. And we do see a pattern emerging. The first crop is tasty, but often somewhat aesthetically challenged, with misshapen fruit. The second crop comes in with more consistent shape and color- so these kind of easy preparations look very appealing at the table. We put these strawberries out and they get eaten, quickly.

    Some strawberries from our second crop, these look better than the first crop.

    Our other simple recipe is a baked goat cheese, lettuce and cherry salad. Baked goat cheese salads have been around for a while, but they are still a great lunch or starter salad and a lovely meat-free dish. And the same basic recipe applies to most stone fruit or berries. If you have strawberries or blackberries or even peaches, you can use this recipe. One key is to taste your goat cheese and then select the fruit that best matches the flavor. Goat cheese ranges widely from creamy to chalky and sweet to very tart. Tart cheese tastes good with sweet stone fruits, while sweeter cheese tastes best with tart strawberries or blackberries (to us, at least). But these are fun experiments, try what you like. In this case we used a creamy, but tart, local goat cheese from Harley Farms to match our very sweet cherries, and it was delicious.

    Ingredients for baked goat cheese, lettuce and cherry salad.

    Baking the goat cheese and breadcrumbs.

    As for making the salad, it is easy, but has a few steps. Firstly cut the cheese into disks and sprinkle with fresh herbs and olive oil. Then make (or buy) some breadcrumbs and lightly coat the cheese with the breadcrumbs. Then bake in a 400 degree oven for 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile wash and dry your greens (remember the dryer the greens, the better the salad), make a quick vinaigrette and prepare your fruit. When ready to serve, dress the salad and then arrange greens, a disk or two of the cheese and some fruit on a salad plate. Simple, tasty and beautiful. There’s a reason you see this dish at restaurants, it works.

    Make a quick, flavorful vinaigrette.

    Arrange on the plate, season and serve.

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